As part of an announcement on its work programme for 2015, the Commission has stated that the National Emissions Ceilings Directive will ‘be modified as part of the legislative follow-up to the 2030 Energy & Climate Package’.
Last week, the COPA-COGECA Presidents wrote to the commission and urged that it revisit its calculation on the cost to the sector and also to consider the fact that the agricultural sector needs to grow during this period – both to feed a growing population and the help the EU recover from the financial crisis.
The Directive, published in December last year, sets out UK reduction targets of 21 per cent for ammonia and 41 per cent for methane by 2030 but the negotiations in the EU institutions have still had to get underway in earnest.
Dr Diane Mitchell, Chief Environment Adviser, said “In recent years trends in the uptake of good practice, such as slurry injection techniques and improvements in nitrogen use efficiency, have been going in the right direction, leading to a subsequent reduction in ammonia and methane emissions. But Commission’s ambition to reduce emissions by 2030 would be very challenging and add significant costs, especially for the livestock sector. We have had serious concerns about whether its targets were realistic and achievable.
“The biggest challenge over the next few years will be to find ways in which farming can continue to produce high quality food and protect the environment. Despite the Commission’s previous reassurances, we have had concerns about whether the proposals could be implemented in a cost-effective way.
“Without a doubt farmers want to make improvements in their environmental performance, but we would like a more realistic and achievable target for 2030 that is affordable to the agricultural sector and allows for growth."
The NFU is pleased that the Commission is modifying is proposal, but we will need to look at any ‘modifications’ in greater detail. We will be engaging with the Brussels decision-making processes to ensure a satisfactory outcome for British farmers and growers.